Meet New Erie Arts & Culture Executive Director Anne O'Dell

Thursday Jul 20th, 2023

IMG 0493

For as long as I can remember, I have felt my work had to be in service to others. When I was a teenager and I was asked, "What do you want to do with your career?" I would respond with a question: "How can I help people?" Over time my question evolved into "How can I be of service to people?" I found my answer when I was working on a graduate degree at the University of Oregon and that answer was developing communities through the arts. I am committed to making the arts accessible for everyone because without the free arts education I participated in, I would have been a high school dropout. I know firsthand the power art has in contributing to a well-balanced life filled with purpose and how it transforms communities through multifaceted learning opportunities, job creation, supporting small locally owned businesses and connecting people person-to-person.

I am also committed to doing business from a place of human dignity. It's my job to make sure the resources the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, grantors, and donors entrust with Erie Arts & Culture are stewarded so that we have the greatest impact possible in contributing to a vibrant, sustainable region. EAC relies on you to tell us what you need and want to create the lives you envision for yourselves, incorporating the artistic and creative talent and skills you each have into the greater fabric of northwestern Pennsylvania. I have met so many people in Erie and I've already begun to visit our partners in the region. Each of you share with me your vision for the future, passion for the present, and you have shown me what an exciting time it is to be part of this community.

When I came on board with EAC, the Views Festival was in full swing, with 27 artists, 54 artist assistants and loads of paint, resulting in 22 murals being painted. This brings the total number of murals for the Safe Walking Routes initiative to 35. What are the next steps? EAC has to pause, take stock of where the project and its resources are, report back to our funders, and listen to the feedback of artists, assistants, volunteers and partners. We will be in touch to get your input on how things went, and then the team and I will release an interim report on the project that includes next steps. Remembering that the Safe Walking Routes initiative is all about keeping kids in school by showing them they're on the route to get them to school and back home is important because it shows children we are invested in them and their futures. EAC is mindful of this, and has some steps to take in charting the next phase of the project to determine how we move forward. 

One thing that stays with me after meeting people through this job is how much you all love being here and much you support each other. To me, that points to so much success ahead for this region and for you. Those relationships, that trust, the optimism and celebration of your talents that you share with each other are essential to the future of this community. You are constantly creating and EAC has begun recognizing the talents of so many people who maybe didn't have a platform before, or an opportunity to grow in their creativity as individuals, or for organizations to take the next step in their evolution. EAC is here to support the talents and creativity of you who make this a multidimensional community with many experiences to participate in. It is exciting to think there are many more people and organizations we have yet to meet.

As I begin laying the groundwork for EAC's next strategic plan, it's important that I hear from as many people as possible throughout the six counties we serve. Individual artists, organization leaders in and outside of the arts and culture sector, creative entrepreneurs, and people who think they're not creative or artistic — I welcome your input to determine the scope and content of EAC's next strides. I look forward to working with our community partners and entrepreneurs as EAC moves forward in service to the many communities in northwestern Pennsylvania. Stay tuned for our next steps! And, thank you for welcoming me to Erie! 

Erie Arts & Culture

Keep in touch with the arts!

Join our mailing list to stay in the loop on culture and creativity in the region!